Speaker Lucas: House Does Its Part to Make Sure Public Officials Do Not Receive Special Treatment
Makes progress on key portions of Ethics package
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House passed several pieces of legislation this week that are key components in its comprehensive ethics package.
The House Ethics Ad Hoc Study Committee worked diligently for months and left no stone unturned when developing nearly twenty pieces of all-inclusive legislation that work to restore public confidence in elected officials.
“The House has made unprecedented progress in working together to repair the fractured relationship between the public and their elected officials,” House Speaker Jay Lucas stated. “Although we still have work left to do, I am very proud we are doing our part to make sure that public officials do not receive special treatment when accused of breaking laws. By establishing an independent investigation, the public can rest assured that each case will receive unbiased attention. Additionally, we have eliminated the influence of PACs in hopes that politics will become more honest and transparent.”
The Ad Hoc Committee diligently studied a number of ethics concerns and worked to make considerable changes by receiving input from the Governor’s office, the Attorney General and his office, as well as a number of good government advocates. The committee also conducted its business with an unparalleled amount of transparency as all bill text, meetings, and votes were made readily available to the public.
House Passed Ethics Bills
1. 3184, Independent Investigation – Reinstitutes the State Ethics Commission and expands its authority to allow it to receive and investigate all ethic complaints against public officials. If probable cause is found, matter is made public and referred to body of jurisdiction for hearing and issuance of possible penalties.
2. 3187, Definition of “Committee” – Properly defines the term so that the public unquestionably knows who is paying for campaign/issue –based advertisements.
3. 3188, Political Action Committee (PAC) Restrictions – Prohibits public officials from operating or maintaining an additional campaign entity. Also bans public officials from accepting contributions from any such entities that continue to exist.
Speaker Lucas Reacts to Supreme Court’s Denial for Abbeville Rehearing
Releases names of the five plaintiff participants in the education task force
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Hartsville) announced the five representatives who will participate in the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force. These individuals were selected by the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Abbeville v. State Supreme Court case and their names were provided to the Speaker’s office on Friday.
The House and Senate asked for a rehearing in November after the Supreme Court issued its decision on the twenty-one year old case. Speaker Lucas, a representative from the Pee Dee, submitted the request primarily because the Court did not provide enough clarity on how to proceed in its ruling.
“Today’s Supreme Count announcement further confirms the dire need for comprehensive education reform,” Speaker Jay Lucas stated. “In light of the Court’s decision to deny a rehearing, I am hopeful that the House Education Task Force will immediately begin its work to develop a robust strategy that ensures every child is given access to the best possible education in every part of our state. These five representatives from the Abbeville v. State case will provide significant insight and help create standards that put our state back on a path towards excellence.”
Representatives from Abbeville County School Districts v. the State of South Carolina
Wanda L. Andrews, Ed. D.
Superintendent, Lee County School District
Former Assistant Superintendent, Spartanburg County School District 7
Former Deputy Superintendent, Sumter County School District 2
David Longshore, Jr., Ph.D.
Former Superintendent and current consultant, Orangeburg County Consolidated District 3
Former Member, State Board of Education
Former President, South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA)
Former President, SCASA Superintendent’s Division
Former Consultant, Educational Testing Service
Former Member, Board of Visitors, MUSC
Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, College of Charleston
Education Advisor, C.S. Mott Foundation
Former Chief Counselor to U.S. Secretary of Education, Secretary Riley
Former Education Director, Office of Governor Riley
Executive Director, Pee Dee Education Center
Former Deputy Superintendent, Florence County School District 1
Superintendent, Clarendon County School District 2
Former Chair, State Board of Education
Former President, South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA)
Former President, SCASA Superintendent’s Division
Speaker Lucas Applauds CDV Ad Hoc Committee
Legislation to be introduced in the House next week
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House Criminal Domestic Violence Ad-Hoc Committee completed its responsibilities and reached an agreement on legislation.
South Carolina unfortunately ranks second in the nation for women killed by men as a result of domestic violence. This unacceptable statistic deserves immediate attention and the government has a responsibility to enact significant reforms to our laws. Speaker Lucas is very pleased that the dedicated members of this committee have been working diligently since August to extensively investigate ways to better protect our citizens from abuse.
“Criminal domestic violence has no place in a civil society,” Speaker Lucas stated. “Our government has a responsibility to dramatically change our laws so that we can offer our citizens the best possible protection from those who attempt to inflict senseless harm. I applaud Chairwoman Shannon Erickson and the rest of this steadfast committee for their dedication and hard work on this extremely important issue and I look forward to seeing this piece of legislation progress through the South Carolina House of Representatives.”
Chairwoman Shannon Erickson stated, “I am proud of the work of this committee. We were able to spend time listening to the concerns of domestic violence victims in addition to concerns from the law enforcement agencies charged with prosecuting their offenders. After months of work, we have a piece of legislation that will give added protections to victims, respect individual rights as well as crack down on violent domestic offenders. I want to thank Attorney General, Alan Wilson, and each individual who contributed to this much needed reform. Our work is not yet done, but we remain dedicated to strengthening justice for victims in South Carolina.”
The legislation agreed upon in this ad hoc committee will be introduced in the House of Representatives next Tuesday and proceed through the proper legislative channels.
Members of the Criminal Domestic Violence Ad-Hoc Committee:
Rep. Shannon S. Erickson, Chairwoman (District 124-Beaufort)
Rep. J. David Weeks, Vice Chair (District 51-Sumter)
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (District 66-Orangeburg)
Rep. MaryGail K. Douglas (District 41-Fairfield)
Rep. Ralph Shealy Kennedy (District 39-Lexington)
Rep. Deborah A. Long (District 45-Lancaster)
Rep. Peter M. McCoy, Jr. (District 115-Charleston)
Rep. Mia S. McLeod (District 79-Richland)
Rep. Robert L. Ridgeway, III (District 64-Clarendon)
Rep. Edward R. “Eddie” Tallon, Sr. (District 33-Spartanburg)
Rep. Anne J. Thayer (District 9-Anderson)
Key provisions included in the legislation:
- Removes the word “criminal” because domestic violence itself is a crime
- Increases penalties for criminals by moving from a strictly occurrence based model to one that considers degree of injury; orders of protection; occurrence; and enhancements such as abuse to pregnant women, strangulation or incidents occurring in the presence of a minor
- Extends time period for a bond hearing to ensure a judge has all necessary information
- Allows the bond judge to consider not only the danger of the alleged criminal to the community, but also to the alleged victim
- Develops a fatality review committee to study domestic violence cases which result in death
- Adds domestic violence education to the curriculum for compressive health classes required in middle school
- Allows judges to proceed with the case without the presence of the victim
- Permits the Department of Social Services to study a voucher system for child care to allow the victim to appear in court
Speaker Lucas Responds to Governor Haley’s State of the State Address
Applauds the Governor’s focus on education, roads, and ethics
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement in response to South Carolina Governor Nikki R. Haley’s State of the State address.
“Tonight, Governor Haley showed sincere optimism for a better South Carolina,” said Speaker Lucas. “I echo her enthusiasm and look forward to working with her this year as we move South Carolina forward.
“Governor Haley has done a tremendous job bringing jobs to the Palmetto State and keeping them here,” Speaker Jay Lucas continued. “Education reform and infrastructure repairs are two of the most challenging economic issues we face. I am encouraged by the Governor’s desire to devote further resources to workforce training so that our students receive the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. Fixing our crumbling roads system is also tremendously important as it directly impacts economic development, which leads to job creation and higher wages.”
Speaker Lucas announced the formation of a one-of-a-kind task force yesterday that is comprised of experienced educators, prominent private sector job creators, and key elected officials. This group, led by Chairwoman Rita Allison(District 36-Spartanburg), is responsible for submitting a report to the Speaker by the beginning of the next legislative session that provides necessary, substantial education reforms. Speaker Lucas also created the House Transportation Infrastructure and Management Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Representative Gary Simrill (District 46-York), which has been thoroughly investigating Department of Transportation reform since September. The group continues to meet and is expected to reveal a plan within the next few weeks.
“As the House continues our charge to restore South Carolinians’ trust in elected officials, we will continue to work with Governor Haley to make comprehensive, transparent ethics reforms become law,” Speaker Lucas stated.
Speaker Lucas created an additional ad hoc committee to comprehensively study ethics reform. The House Ethics Ad Hoc Committee has produced nineteen bills that will be included in an extensive ethics reform package. Legislation to address campaign finance – including banning so-called “leadership PACS” and establishing independent investigations – was voted out of committee earlier this week and will be debated on the House floor soon.
Speaker Lucas Creates Task Force to Advance Education Reform
Appoints Legislators, Educators, and Working Professionals
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) announced the formation of a task force to begin laying the groundwork for substantial, necessary education reforms. Speaker Lucas carefully selected the members of the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force based upon their experience and overall commitment to education.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to receive an exceptional education that paves the way for tremendous opportunity and lifelong success,” Speaker Jay Lucas said. “Effective education reform requires more than just suggestions from administrators; it demands valuable input from our job creators who seek to hire trained and proficient employees. All available avenues should be explored to guarantee our students receive a workforce-ready education that prepares each child for the 21st century.”
Speaker Jay Lucas selected Representative Rita Allison of Spartanburg to chair the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force. Rep. Allison currently serves as Chairwoman of the House Education and Public Works Committee. The Speaker also appointed six additional members of the South Carolina House, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, several working professionals, and five representatives from the plaintiffs in the Abbeville County School District v. The State of South Carolina Supreme Court decision to participate in this task force.
“I am confident that this unique and collaborative task force, under the leadership of Chairwoman Rita Allison, will successfully reevaluate our educational mandates and institute knowledgeable reforms that will put our system on a path to excellence,” Speaker Jay Lucas continued.
Chairwoman Rita Allison stated, “Speaker Lucas’ revolutionary efforts to create this task force and include private sector professionals and representatives from school districts is truly commendable. Each member of the group will provide exceptional insight that will lead to significant education reforms for the Palmetto State.”
“I am honored to be part of Speaker Lucas’ team, which brings the General Assembly and education community together,” Superintendent Molly Spearman said. “It is vital that we develop a consensus and solution that benefits all students, regardless of where they live. Together, we can develop true education reform that ensures every South Carolina student is college and career ready.”
Members of the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force
Rep. Merita A. “Rita” Allison, (District 36-Spartanburg), Chairwoman of the House Education and Public Works Committee
April Allen, Director of State Government Relations, Continental Tire Corporation
Rep. Kenneth A. “Kenny” Bingham, (District 89-Lexington), Chairman of the Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee, House Ways and Means Committee
Rep. William “Bill” Clyburn, (District 82-Aiken), House Ways and Means Committee
Rep. Joseph S. Daning, (District 92-Berkeley), House Education and Public Works Committee
Lewis Gossett, President and CEO, South Carolina Manufacturing Alliance
Rep. Jerry N. Govan, (District 95-Orangeburg), House Education and Public Works Committee
Rep. Jackie E. “Coach” Hayes, (District 55-Dillon), House Ways and Means Committee
Rainey Knight, Former Superintendent of Darlington County Public Schools
Rep. Dwight A. Loftis, (District 19-Greenville), House Ways and Means Committee
Superintendent Molly Spearman, State Superintendent of Education
Dr. James C. “Jimmie” Williamson, President and Executive Director, South Carolina Technical College System
NOTE: The five invited representatives from the Abbeville County School District v. The State of South Carolina Supreme Court Decision were chosen to ensure that every child in South Carolina is given access to the best education, regardless of where the student lives. The names of these individuals will be announced at a later date.
The task force will be required to submit a report to the Speaker by the first day of next year’s legislative session (Tuesday, January 12, 2016) with their findings and suggestions for reform. Speaker Lucas has highlighted a list of specific reforms he would like to see addressed in the report’s findings:
1) Structural – After reevaluating the current policy, the task force must develop a structural framework that allows every individual school district to provide the opportunity for a twenty-first century education for all students.
2) Curriculum Standards– Highlight the workforce needs, particularly familiarity and access to technology, of the state’s private sector employers and develop recommended updates to the statewide curriculum standards that emphasize the needs for increased math and science education. Curriculum guidelines should be reevaluated from the early, formative years when students enter the state’s public education system all the way through high school.
3) Programmatic Review – Conduct a thorough review of all current statewide requirements to determine what can be eliminated, consolidated or updated in order to increase available resources for classroom instruction.
4) Work Force Development and/or Tech College – With an emphasis on creating a job ready workforce, develop methods to enhance access and availability of current technical college resources.